Skip to main content

Full text of "NightRider"

See other formats


214

and when he left she thanked him. The next week he resumed
the novel. But he never finished it. She finally said that
what she would like to hear was the newspaper. But when
he read the newspaper to her, he discovered that her atten-
tion flagged at the long, important, consecutive pieces. What
she liked was the short, flat statement that had no possible
reference to her life, advertisements of merchandise which she
could neither buy nor use, the notice of the death of an
obscure citizen in a distant part of the city, or of the birth of
a child to a couple of whom she had never heard, or of the
construction of a building which she would never enter. The
novel had a direction, it described lives that were moving
toward fulfilments, it pretended to a meaning. Therefore she
could not listen to it. She could not listen to the long, con-
secutive articles in the newspaper. But the fragmentary, the
irrelevant, the meaningless, such things she could receive and
draw her special nourishment from. Automatically, she re-
jected everything else; for, fixed now in her room and failing
in vision, she was like some species of marine life that, lodged
on the floor or on some rocky shelf, sustains itself on what the
random currents bring, absorbing the appropriate matter and
ejecting all else, with a delicate and punctilious, but uncon-
scious, discrimination.

And she did not like to talk of the past, and avoided his
questions. Indeed, she had little memory of the past. That,
too, she had rejected, for out of memory rises the notion of a
positive and purposive future, the revision of the past. The
photographs which cluttered her room and which she never
looked at seemed to be, paradoxically, the very symbol of her
discipline; they were the trophies of temptations overcome.
But Percy Munn persisted for a while, vainly, in his questions
and suggestions, even after he had begun to sense the logic of
her refusal, and the magnitude of her achievement.

All the time he was in Philadelphia he went to see her regu-
larly. He had nothing in common with her, and he was, he
knew, nothing more than a meaningless shape to her. There
was no charity in his visits, for he knew that she did not desire